Schools have a plan if severe weather strikes - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Schools have a plan if severe weather strikes

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In the event of severe weather, most schools have a plan in place.

Most of the time children end up in the school's hallways, but it all starts with an alert.

At Harbison West Elementary the weather radios in the office are always on, in addition to the backup radio for the district.

"At the district office we have a radio that we can alert all 22 schools at one time to tornado warnings, tornado watches," said security and safety manager of district five Michael Poole.  

Drills from severe weather week prepare students for the real tornado warning.

"There were a couple of children who last year were afraid," said Barbara Brockhard principal of Harbison West Elementary. They cried and some of them were from the Midwest and they had experienced tornados before and they were weeping as so you could walk by and consol them."

Why a narrow hallway versus a gym?

"You don't want to go to a room with a big roof span, a high roof span, that has less wall that provides less structural integrity, so the small hallways that are interior," Michael added.  

Across the county at Bookman Elementary it's a similar drill in the hallways, and procedures are in place if not everything goes according to plan.

"In the event a student is not where they should be, we do communicate via walkie-talkies and other methods, just to ensure we're able to account for the whereabouts of each and every student in the building," said Kendra James assistant principal at Harbison West Elementary.

Both Bookman and Harbison have critical response teams.

"Those individuals who are trained in CPR and First Aid and they would be called to the scene in the event some assistance is needed," Kendra added.

There's an advance notification system in place that lets parents know they've had a disaster and how to respond.

In Lexington-Richland 5 they'll hold several drills this summer with emergency responders, training that's happening when students aren't even in the building. 

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